A Fine Gael Senator has criticised the lack of a proper response from Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) to the all-too-frequent delays at Dublin Airport due to drones being flown illegally in the vicinity of the runway.
Senator Regina Doherty, based in Fingal, said: “Last night, flights were grounded at Dublin Airport for the sixth time in eight weeks after yet another drone operator threatened our airspace and public safety.
“It is common knowledge that drones cannot be flown within a 5km radius of the airport; yet, some insist on defying this.
“Thousands of passengers had their flights suspended or diverted in recent months, causing frustrating delays across a range of airlines. Three flights were diverted to Belfast and Shannon last night causing further angst.
“There is nothing new here. This happens every time a drone is spotted by the airport, and every time, the same questions are asked.
“My question is: what have Minister Ryan and the DAA done about the need to take down drones, and drone operators, over the last few years?
“We are an island nation. Our capital’s airport – our main airport – is the twelfth busiest in Europe. It is an absolutely vital international transport hub and it has to work 24/7. There is no room for such constant delays.
“As we have heard repeatedly, there is technology in place at our airports to detect drone activity. However, there is nothing there to prevent or deter drones.
“I am renewing my call for new technology to be introduced that can neutralise – or ‘jam’ – light aircraft that poses a threat to our airspace. They do it in other European countries; let’s learn from international best practice.
“In order to do that, though, we need to legislate. Minister Ryan and his department need to finally act swiftly and decisively, to enact legislation that will permit this technology.
“We also need tougher sentencing for offenders and I am glad that my colleague, Justice Minister Simon Harris, has stated publicly that he is in favour of this,” concluded Senator Doherty.